Friday, December 9, 2022
First Reviews 2022 Subaru Forester First Drive Review: More Refined and Ruggeder

2022 Subaru Forester First Drive Review: More Refined and Ruggeder

The 2022 Subaru Forester is now even more comfortable to drive, includes a first-ever Wilderness trim, but it’s not exactly handsome

  • Pricing for the 2022 Subaru Forester starts at $29,495 in Canada.

  • The 5th generation Forester was introduced for 2019. This is a midcycle refresh.

  • The new Forester Wilderness will please adventure-styled vehicle lovers.

The Subaru Forester’s always had an edge over its now countless rivals. From the very onset, going all the way back to its birth, the Forester has been equipped with AWD and delivered with actual off-road capabilities. Its supple ride and generous ground clearance made it a favorite with both urban dwellers and adventure seekers.

For 2022, Subaru’s midcycle refresh of the Forester is squarely aimed at both the former and latter groups. Visually, the new Forester is now a little sharper although some of the design decisions are, in my humble opinion, questionable.


2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The rear is well done. The hatch’s glass surround and the bumper’s under guard are sportier and more dynamic. From the sides, most trims get updated roof rails while the top-trim Premier features new 18-inch wheels and pillar covers. So far, so good. Up front, however, the changes are not exactly as subtle.

The bumper, grille, headlights are altered but not necessarily for the better. The headlights especially are too angular and aggressive for the Forester’s generally calm presence. The biggest offender is the bumper, particularly in the Wilderness. In a bid to increase the approach angle, designers gave the SUV a bucktooth nose (I’m meaner still in my video) that extends too far beyond the front wheels. The new Wilderness’ extra cladding intensifies rather than blends the fascia into its surroundings.

Thankfully, the Premier we also got our hands on (and all other versions) fare better in the nose section. Even so, the new-for-2022 Wilderness is the big story. As more automakers get on the “adventure-vehicle” bandwagon where extra plastic and badges entitle an SUV to be “off-road” capable, Subaru had no choice but to finally create their own.

The cabin is as welcoming as always

2022 Subaru Forester Premier | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The cabin gets only a handful of changes for 2022 including a gimmicky gesture control to adjust the temperature in higher trims. An opened or closed hand increases or decrease ambient temperature by two degrees. The Premier can now be fitted with two-tone brown and black leather surfaces – a nice premium touch for the premium version.

As always, the Subaru Forester affords occupants impressive levels of room. Six-foot tall passengers will find plenty of head- and legroom in the rear. The trunk is large at 762 litres in volume and the hatch provides an opening wider than that of the midsize Ascent.

Wilderness is for real

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Olivier Delorme

More imposing cladding aside, the new Subaru Forester Wilderness is more than just a questionable face. The $38,995 SUV is fitted with 17-inch Wilderness-specific wheels and Yokohama Geolandar G015 All-Terrain tires. The underbody features both engine- and rear differential skid plates should you be drawn to rougher trails.

The Wilderness offers an extra 9mm or about half an inch more ground clearance than the regular Foresters. At a commendable 229mm or 9 inches, the rougher deeply rutted paths we tackled proved to be no more challenging for the Forester than a shopping mall parking lot. Here, we also got to experience the included dual-mode X-Mode system. Set in Deep Snow and Mud mode, it effortlessly managed power transmission to the wheels that could best make use of it. New for 2022, X-Mode will now enter a standby mode when speeds exceed 35 km/h rather than shutting off completely.

Speaking of transmission, the familiar Lineatronic CVT is enhanced with an overall lower gear ratio along with a more aggressive rear differential ratio, a similar setup to that of the Outback Wilderness. Unlike the latter, however, the Forester is powered by the proverbial 2.5-litre flat 4-cylinder Boxer engine which delivers 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque. The Continuously Variable Transmission is well suited to the power and the eight pre-programmed “gears” can be shifted through thanks to paddle shifters.

Even though I still occasionally shudder at the idea of the CVT, it’s well adapted to the Subaru. Above all, the Forester’s best attribute is its ride. Already smooth and comfortable, the 2022 refresh has taken the Global Platform and its chassis to the next level with better-controlled dampening for an even more refined and compliant ride. Be it low speeds, high speeds, or off-road, the Forester is one of, if not the most relaxed compact SUV on four wheels.

Finally, the 4th iteration of Subaru’s highly-regarded EyeSight driving assist technology finds its way in the new Forester. The new camera’s hardware enables a wider view and includes Automatic Emergency Steering and enhancements to Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Centring Assist, and other functions.

Tough crowd

2022 Subaru Forester Premier | Photo: Olivier Delorme

The compact SUV segment includes several best-sellers for the involved brands. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, and Volkswagen Tiguan are just some of the Forester’s competitors.

The 2022 Forester, which starts at $29,495, is one of the least expensive SUVs in the group with AWD, SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto as standard. The competition also falls behind where the $38,995 Wilderness is concerned. Features like it dedicated skid plates, all-terrain tires, and extra ground clearance are either not available or only included in a package that prices the contender well above the Wilderness.

The 2022 Subaru Forester is still one of the best options in the segment.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2022 Subaru Forester Premier | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Olivier Delorme

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Olivier Delorme

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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